January 31, 2018 8:26:20 pm
The Supreme Court on Wednesday remanded back to the Madras High Court the pleas relating to issuance of two Look Out Circulars (LOC) against Karti Chidambaram, son of former union minister P Chidambaram, and others in a corruption case. The top court, which had stayed the High Court’s order of August 10 last year keeping at abeyance the LOCs issued on June 16 and July 28 last year against Karti and others in the case, however made it clear that its interim order “shall continue till the matter is finally disposed of”.
“The (four) writ petitions …, challenging the Look Out Circulars of June 16, 2017 and July 18, 2017, be decided by the Division Bench presided over by the Chief Justice of the High Court of Madras. “The High Court is requested to dispose of these writ petitions within two months,” a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said.
The top court also said it has not expressed any opinion on the merits of the case and asked the high court to deal with them independently. The bench considered the submissions of Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the CBI, that the argument of the probe agency with regard to the fact that the Madras High Court has no territorial jurisdiction to deal with the LOC cases, shall be kept open for adjudication.
“All the issues raised in these writ petitions, including the issue of territorial jurisdiction, are kept open and shall be addressed by the High Court,” it said. The bench also said the high court will deal with the application, if any, of the accused seeking permission to go abroad on merits. “If any application for travelling abroad is filed before the High Court, the same shall be appositely addressed,” it said.
Earlier, a single judge bench of the Madras High Court had stayed the LOC issued against Karti and others in a graft case relating to grant of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to INX Media for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 when Karti’s father was the Union Finance Minister. Later, the apex court considered the appeal of CBI and stayed the operation of the High Court order staying the LOC.
The Supreme Court, however, has kept to itself another batch of petitions pertaining to registration of FIR in the corruption case. The apex court had earlier permitted Mohanan Rajesh, who is under the scanner over the INX media deal along with Karti, to travel abroad from January 27 to February 5. It had then fixed for hearing today the pleas which pertained to the issuance of LOCs against Karti and others and whether the matters can be remanded back to the Madras High Court for disposal on merits.
The Centre had opposed the move saying the high court had no territorial jurisdiction to stay and decide the matter arising out of the issuance LoC against Karti and others, as the FIR in the case was registered in Delhi. The CBI FIR, lodged on May 15 last year, had alleged irregularities in the FIPB clearance to INX Media for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007.
The top court was hearing pleas including the CBI’s appeal challenging the Madras High Court order staying LOC against Karti Chidambaram. The CBI had on September 1 last year said there were “good, cogent” reasons for issuing the LOC. The apex court had also said that Karti would not be allowed to leave India without subjecting himself to probe in the case. The court had then stayed the high court order putting on hold the LOC against Karti.
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